The Cambridge Emeralds

The Cambridge Emeralds came into the royal family through Queen Mary who was the grandmother of the current queen, Queen Elizabeth II.  The story is a very interesting one in which the emeralds were originally acquired by Augusta of Hesse- Kassel, the Duchess of Cambridge (Queen Mary’s grandmother) in 1818 at a charity lottery while they were in Frankfort, Germany.  The box that was the prize is said to have contained somewhere between 30 to 40 cabochon emeralds (cabochon is a French word meaning a gemstone which is slightly shaped and polished as opposed to being cut and faceted).

Duchess of Teck wearing the original Cambridge emerald necklace

The Duchess had some of the emeralds set into a pair of drop earrings and a pendant necklace.  After her death her daughter, Mary Adelaide, the Duchess of Teck (Queen Mary’s mother) inherited the emeralds.  Unfortunately, the Cambridge emeralds were almost lost to the royal family when they were passed onto Prince Francis of Teck (Queen Mary’s brother) and when he died suddenly in 1910 the emeralds fell into the possession of his mistress.  Luckily, Princess Mary of Teck (later to become Queen Mary) retrieved the emeralds under questionable circumstances.

Queen Mary was known to wear numerous pieces of jewelry at one time and on the occasion of the Imperial Durbar held in Delhi in 1911, when King George V was crowned Emperor of India, she had a majority of the Cambridge emeralds set into what became known as the Delhi Durbar parure.  (A parure in royal terms is a set of matching jewelry that would sometimes include a tiara, necklace, bracelet, brooch and earrings)

1911 Delhi Durbar

Then in 1921, Queen Mary bought a diamond and pearl tiara from the Grand Duchess Elena Vladimirovna of Russia.  The tiara had been smuggled out of Russia by a British diplomat during the 1917 revolution.  After acquiring the tiara, Queen Mary had it altered and the original teardrop pearls could be replaced by fifteen Cambridge cabochon emeralds.  (Please click on the link, the Queen’s Jewelry Collection – Part One, for additional information on the Grand Duchess Vladimr Tiara)

The remaining Cambridge emeralds were used in additional brooches, necklaces, bracelets and earrings made by Garrards, the Royal Jewelers.  These pieces of jewelry were cleverly designed so that the emeralds could be detachable from their setting so that Queen Mary would be able to insert gemstones that would coordinate with the color of her gowns.

All of the jewelry mentioned; the Delhi Durbar parure, the Vladimir tiara and the additional pieces using the Cambridge emeralds, were the personal property of Queen Mary.  Eventually, Queen Elizabeth II inherited the collection in 1953.

The Cambridge Emerald Collection including the Delhi Durbar Parure

The Delhi Durbar Tiara – The tiara was originally part of the Delhi Durbar Parure and was set with several of the Cambridge emeralds, many years later the ten cabochon emeralds would be eventually used in the Grand Duchess Vladimir Tiara.  The Delhi Durbar Tiara is now part of Queen Elizabeth’s personal jewelry collection and was most recently worn by Camilla, the current Duchess of Cornwall.

Delhi Durbar Tiara worn by Queen Mary    Delhi Durbar Tiara worn by the Duchess of Cornwall

The Delhi Durbar Necklace – The Delhi Durbar Necklace was specifically made for the 1911 Delhi Durbar and is set with nine cabochon Cambridge emeralds, six large diamonds, numerous smaller diamonds and the Cullinan VII diamond which is an 8.8 carat marquise shaped diamond.  The necklace was made by Garrard at the request of King George V and was presented to Queen Mary on occasion of her 44th birthday.  Since the Queen Elizabeth inherited the necklace in 1953 she usually wears it paired with the Vladimir Tiara for evening events.

Delhi Durbar Necklace    Delhi Durbar Necklace worn by Queen Elizabeth

The Delhi Durbar Bracelet – The original Delhi Durbar Parure included three emerald bracelets made by Garrard and this one is set in platinum and gold with three of the Cambridge emeralds and several diamonds.  Later, when Queen Elizabeth inherited the jewelry collection from her grandmother, Queen Mary, the Delhi Durbar Bracelet was one of her favorite pieces and she often wears the bracelet for evening engagements.

Delhi Durbar Bracelet

The Delhi Durbar Earrings – The Delhi Durbar earrings are set with one of the Cambridge oval shaped cabochon emeralds surrounded by 11 diamonds and a matching emerald provided by Garrard surrounded by an additional 11 diamonds.  Since Queen Mary would often wear several necklaces at one time, the earrings were kept relatively simple in style.

Cambridge Emerald Earrings

The Delhi Durbar Stomacher and Scroll Cambridge Emerald Brooch – These pieces of jewelry were specially made by Garrard for Queen Mary to wear to the 1911 Delhi Durbar.  The Delhi Durbar Stomacher is set in gold with seven of the Cambridge emeralds, chips from the Cullinan diamond and several smaller diamonds.  The stomacher was a favorite of Queen Mary and she wore it often with several additional brooches, such as the Cullinan V Heart Brooch and the Cullinan VIII Emerald-cut Brooch, to create an impressive display. (a stomacher is customarily a set of elaborate pieces of jewelry that are normally worn over the bodice of a gown)  One of those additional brooches worn with the Delhi Durbar Stomacher was the Scroll Cambridge Emerald Brooch which included a square-shaped emerald placed in a scrolled diamond setting and a removable emerald pendant.  Since the Cambridge Emerald collection passed to Queen Elizabeth in 1953 she rarely wears the Stomacher but occasionally wears the Scroll Brooch for day or evening engagements.

Delhi Durbar Stomacher worn by Queen Mary with Delhi Durbar Brooches    Delhi Durbar Brooch

The Delhi Carved Emerald Brooch – Queen Mary was given the Delhi Carved Emerald Brooch by the ladies of India to wear at the Delhi Durbar in 1911.  This brooch does not contain one of the Cambridge Emeralds but it is included in the Delhi Durbar Parure.  Set in silver and gold, the large hexagon shaped emerald is intricately carved with the images a rose on the front and an unidentified plant on the back and it is surrounded by several diamonds.  Queen Mary wore the brooch pinned at the top of the Delhi Durbar Stomacher with additional brooch pinned below.  In 1953, the Delhi Carved Emerald Brooch was passed to Queen Elizabeth and she only wears in occasionally due to its heavy weight.

Delhi Durbar Carved Emerald Brooch

The Round Cambridge Emerald Brooch – Unlike the other pieces of Cambridge Emerald jewelry collection, this brooch was not specifically made for the Delhi Durbar although it was worn for that occasion in 1911.  The round cabochon emerald is surrounded by two rows of diamonds with a pear shaped emerald pendant that can be detached.  After the death of Queen Mary, the brooch was passed to Queen Elizabeth who wears it often and mostly with the pendant attached and but she will occasionally wear it without the pendant.

Delhi Durbar Round Brooch worn with pendant by Queen Elizabeth    Delhi Durbar Round Brooch worn without pendant by Queen Elizabeth

The Grand Duchess Vladimir Tiara – In 1921, Queen Mary bought a diamond and pearl tiara from the Grand Duchess Elena Vladimirovna of Russia.  Queen Elizabeth inherited the tiara in 1953 and frequently wears it with the original teardrop pendants and occasionally with the interchangeable Cambridge Emerald pendants. (Please click on the following link, the Queen’s Jewelry Collection – Part Two, for additional information on the Grand Duchess Vladimr Tiara)

Grand Duchess Vladimir Tiara

The Art Deco Emerald Choker – There is some controversy surrounding this Art Deco Emerald Choker and it was always believed that this necklace was created for Queen Mary with the Cambridge Emeralds for the 1911 Delhi Durbar.  Recently it was determined that the emeralds used in the necklace were in fact a gift to Queen Mary from the Ladies of India and this necklace is sometimes confused with the Delhi Durbar Necklace.  The confusion lies in the fact that in 1921 Queen Mary had the original necklace redesigned and shortened into an Art Deco style choker set in platinum which she worn with a multiple strands of diamond necklaces.  The Art Deco choker was passed to Queen Mary in 1953 but she did not prefer the shortened style.  Much later in the 1980s the Queen loaned the choker to Diana, the Princess of Wales.  Diana wore the choker often and it became one of her signature pieces of jewelry.  Then in 1985 on a tour of Australia she wore the chocker in a very unusual way.  At an evening engagement in Melbourne Diana cleverly accessorized her beautiful turquoise Emanuel designed evening gown by wearing the chocker as a bandeau in a distinctive 1920 style across her forehead.  Upon Diana’s death in 1997 the necklace was returned to the Queen.

Delhi Durbar Choker
Delhi Durbar Choker - Princess Diana    Delhi Durbar Choker - Princess Diana wears as headpeice

Also, if you are interested in more information about the Royal Family and their jewels, please click on the links to the following posts:  The Crown Jewels (Part One and Part Two) and the Queen’s Jewelry Collection (Part One and Part Two)


The Queen’s Jewelry Collection (Part One)

Over the past months there have been two posts that discussed the Crown Jewels of England, Part One and Part Two.  Part One detailed the Royal Regalia which is used in the Coronation of the British Monarch and Part Two had information on some of the other items within the Crown Jewels collection, such as Queen Victoria’s small diamond crown and the Queen Mother’s crown with the famous 105 carat Koh-I-Nor diamond.  (yes, the diamond is that large!)   This post will detail some of the items in the Queen’s personal collection; such as the George IV State Diadem, several beautiful tiaras and other pieces of lovely jewelry that have been passed down within the royal family.

By definition the British Monarch’s Jewels are a collection of tiaras, necklaces, earrings and brooches that are part of their personal collection.  Queen Elizabeth II is the current British Monarch and for her coronation in 1953 she wore St. Edward’s Crown and for the annual State Opening of Parliament she wears the Imperial State Crown. (for more information about these two crowns please see Crown Jewels – Part One)  According to tradition, the Crown Jewels never leave England, so when the Queen travels to another country she will wear one of several tiaras from her personal collection.  In addition to a variety of beautiful tiaras, the Queen also has a lovely selection of necklaces, earrings and brooches that she will wear while attending the daily events on her royal calendar.

Listed below are some of the items from the Queen’s personal collection:

The George IV State Diadem

The George IV State Diadem was made in 1820 for the coronation of King George IV.   The diadem includes 1333 diamonds, including a four-carat yellow diamond and 169 pearls, the circular frame alternates between crosses and a floral design which incorporate roses, thistles and shamrocks which are the symbols of England, Scotland and Ireland.

The diadem was later worn by Queen Adelaide, the consort of King William IV.  Queen Victoria inherited it in 1837 and she wore it at her coronation during the recessional from Westminster Abbey.  Upon her death in 1901 the diadem was passed to a secession of Queen consorts; Queen Alexandra, Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth.  The diadem was worn by Queen Elizabeth II for her coronation on the procession from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Abbey and it is now part of the Queen’s Personal Jewel Collection.   The diadem is one of the most easily recognizable items of the collection since it is worn by Queen Elizabeth in the image on the postage stamps, coins and currency of England; it is also worn in the annual procession from Buckingham Palace to the State Opening of Parliament.

George IV State Diadem

Queen wearing the diadem - young Queen-Elizabeth-Parliament-Opening

Queen Mary’s Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara

In 1893, this tiara was given to Princess Victoria Mary of Teck on the occasion of her marriage to the Duke of York, the future King George.  Funds were privately raised and it was given by the “girls of Great Britain and Ireland” as a gift to the future Queen Mary. (hence the name of the tiara!)

The tiara is circular in form with diamonds pave set in silver and gold.  Originally the tiara had 14 large oriental pearls at each top; in 1914 Queen Mary adapted the tiara to use 13 large diamonds instead of the pearls for a slight change.  The tiara can also be worn as a necklace.  Queen Elizabeth wears this tiara often and can be is seen wearing it in the images on the paper currency and coins of Great Britain.

Britain Royal Jewels

crown 1 crown 2

Queen Mary’s Fringe Tiara

Known by several different names, such as the Hanoverian Fringe Tiara and King Georg III Fringe Tiara, the history of this tiara can be rather confusing.  The piece started as a diamond fringe necklace owned by Queen Adelaide, the consort of King William IV, made with diamonds formerly owned by King George III and Queen Charlotte.  The necklace was inherited by Queen Victoria and passed down within the royal family.  Queen Mary had the fringe necklace remade into a tiara.

Later, Queen Mary decided to combine this fringe tiara with diamonds from a necklace that Queen Victoria gave her as a wedding present.  The royal jeweler, Garrard, was brought in make a new tiara that used elements of these two pieces.  The new tiara now included 47 bars of diamonds with smaller diamond spikes, the new piece can be converted into a necklace.  In 1936, Queen Mary gave the tiara to her daughter-in-law Princess Elizabeth, the Duchess of York (the future Queen Consort of King George VI and later the Queen Mother).

The Queen Mother lent it to her daughter, the future Queen Elizabeth II, to wear on her wedding day in 1947.  The tiara broke but was quickly repaired and in photographs taken that day the tiara can be seen looking a little off-centered.  The Queen Mother also lent the tiara to her granddaughter, Princess Anne, to wear on her wedding day in 1973.  The Queen Mother wore the tiara frequently over the years and when she died in 2002 the tiara was inherited by Queen Elizabeth II.

Fringe Tiara

fringe tiara 2

Cambridge Lovers Knot Tiara

In 1914 Queen Mary commissioned Garrard to recreate the tiara of Princess Augusta of Hesse-Cassel, her maternal grandmother, who was the Duchess of Cambridge.  According to her will, when Queen Mary died she left the tiara to her granddaughter, Queen Elizabeth II.  The tiara was later given to Diana, Princess of Wales, as a wedding present and she who wore often.  After her divorce from Prince Charles in 1996 the tiara was returned to the Queen.

The tiara is French Neo-Classical in a design which features 19 openwork frames of diamonds in the form of arches with 19 graduated large pearl drops.  At the top of each arch are lover’s knot bows with a large diamond at the center.

Cambridge Lover's Knot Tiara worn by Queen and Diana

The Grand Duchess Vladimir Tiara

The Grand Duchess Vladimir, Maria Pavlovna, was the wife of the Grand Duke Vladimir Alexanrovich and the aunt of the Tsar Nicholas II of Russia.  The tiara was created specifically for her in 1874 by the Russia royal jewelers and was a semi-circular band made of platinum with a design consisting of fifteen interlaced circles set with diamonds and a band of diamonds across the top with pearls drops and small diamonds mounted inside each of the circles.

With the start of the Russian Revolution in 1917, many Russian royalty members including the Grand Duchess fled the country but most of her fabulous jewels were hidden in a secret vault in the Palace.  Sadly, Tsar Nicholas and his family were murdered by the Bolsheviks in 1918.   The Grand Duchess lived exiled from Russia first in Venice, Italy and later she moved to the south of France.  Her jewels, including the tiara were eventually smuggled of out Russia by a trusted British diplomat and returned to the Grand Duchess.   When she died in 1920 her jewels and the tiara were given to her daughter, the Grand Duchess Elena Vladimirona, who married Prince Nicholas of Greece.  As the family’s vast fortune was reduced, she sold several pieces of jewelry, including the tiara, to Queen Mary in 1921.

By this time the tiara was in very poor condition and in need of repairs.  The tiara was refurbished by Garrard, the royal jewelers, and Queen Mary decided to make the original teardrop pearls interchangeable with her famous Cambridge emeralds.  When Queen Mary died in 1953, the Vladimir Tiara was given to her granddaughter, Queen Elizabeth II.

Queen Elizabeth wears this versatile tiara frequently and it is also one of her favorites, sometimes she will wear it with the original pearl drops, sometimes with the Cambridge emeralds and she has even worn the tiara with no pendants at all.

The Grand Duchess Vladimir Tiara with pearls and Cambridge emeralds

Cartier Halo Tiara

This tiara was made by Cartier in 1939 and purchased by the Duke of York, the future King George VI, for his wife the Duchess of York.  The tiara is designed in the form of a band with 16 graduated scrolls set with 888 diamonds.

As Queen Elizabeth, the consort of King George, she wore the tiara several times over the years before presenting it to her daughter, Princess Elizabeth, for her 18th birthday.  When King George died in 1952 Princess Elizabeth became Queen Elizabeth II and for her 1953 coronation, the tiara was loaned to her sister, Princess Margaret to wear.  The tiara was loaned most recently to Catherine Middleton for her wedding to Prince William in 2011.

Cartier Halo Tiara

The Prince Albert Sapphire Brooch

The day before their wedding in 1840, Prince Albert gave Queen Victoria a beautiful sapphire and diamond brooch.  The center stone is a large oblong blue sapphire surrounded by twelve round diamonds and set in gold, the size of the sapphire has never been confirmed but it is estimated to be between 20-30 carats.

After Prince Albert’s death in 1861, the brooch became a very sentimental to Queen Victoria and she wore is very often for during her long life.  When Queen Victoria died in 1901, this important historical brooch was given to the British Crown. Several Queen Consorts have worn the brooch over the years including the present Queen Elizabeth II.

Prince Albert Brooch

 “Granny’s Chips” – the Cullinan III & IV Diamonds

The Cullinan Diamond was found in South Africa and presented to King Edward Vii on the occasion of his birthday in XXXX.  Several stones were cut from this massive diamond, two of those were the pear shaped 94.4 carat Cullinan IIII and the square shaped 63.6 carat Cullinan IV.  Queen Mary had both these stones made into a brooch and they became known collectively as “Granny’s Chips”.  When she died in 1953, the most of her jewelry collection, including the brooch, was passed onto Queen Elizabeth II.

The combined weight of the two stones when worn as a brooch can be very heavy. During her reign the Queen has worn the brooch only for very special occasions, the most recent time was for her Diamond Jubilee celebration in 2013.  The beautiful brooch has great significant historical value and it is considered one of the most priceless items in the Queen’s Personal Jewel Collection.

Granny's chips  Granny's chips 1

For more information about the Queen’s Personal Jewelry Collection, please click on the link to Part Two.  Also, if you are interested in more information about the Royal Family and their jewels, please click on the links to the following posts:  The Crown Jewels (Part One and Part Two) and the Cambridge Emeralds.